Tulsa Central ’65

Comments-Patrick Murphy

    I Remember Jimmy

As preparations are made for the 50th reunion of Tulsa Central High School class of 1965 (by those people who do these things), I have been reflecting on the last 50+ years. I have been thinking about what I have learned over my past 67 years. The first thing is, I am sorry to report is that my parents were right, you just wait they said. Well I waited. And no, I did not know everything when I was 16 years old.

My generation will be known at the “Baby Boomers”. Our parents’ generation had just fought a long and terrible war that had killed millions due mainly to one Madman! Our fathers were returning to begin life at home again and to start a family and carrier. Our mothers, who had done the jobs of the men during the war were also returning to start the families and to make our homes a place to feel safe and for us to grow and learn.

I will begin on a warm August day in 1959 when I entered Roosevelt Junior High School. Roosevelt had a wonderful campus setting with Owen Park across the street. There was the main building, an industrial building and a third building that only held the gym class now, it had contained several classrooms at an earlier time. For those of us who attended Roosevelt, we will always remember the city dump (called landfills today) next to the school. Especially when the winds came sweeping across the plains on a hot August day in the “wrong” direction. The dump was closed that year as I remember. There was no air-conditioning in the school in 1959 and it could be very hot in August in Oklahoma. But most of the students in this mostly blue collar district did not have air-conditioning in their home either.

I had attended Irving Elementary School and had never had an African American classmate as the Tulsa schools were segregated at the time. While at Roosevelt, court ordered bussing began and I experienced for the first time being around African American’s in school. It would be some years later that my church would have its first African American member. As a quick side note, my family owned the café inside Skaggs drug store at 5th and Boulder during this time. My parents hired an African American lady as a waitress while I was in Junior High School and we had several customers that never returned to our business due to this. I did not realize at the time what a big statement it was that my parents had made. In their own simple, quiet way, they said enough to racism. It still seems that the less intelligent segment of our fellow countrymen alway needs someone to hate and to blame all of their failures in life on. They don’t like anyone that is not the same color as them, the same religion, the same sexual orientation, or political thinking. What a boring world it would be if everyone was exactly the same?   

Roosevelt is where I met James (Jimmy) Nelson Hinckle. Jimmy was a sort of dorkey kid whose body seemed somewhat disjointed; although I am sure he would grow into it someday. He was very skinny and had a crooked smile. I don’t say this in a mean way; it is just to give you an idea of how Jimmy looked. Jimmy always had a smile on his face and was always ready to have some fun. I think what caught my attention about Jimmy is that he always laughed at my stupid jokes.

In visiting Jimmy’s house a few times over the years and remember his mother and a sister but do not recall any father figure. I don’t know the story about his father as I never asked and he never offered an explanation. He had a paper route that seems to have helped with the family’s financial situation. Most of our contact was at school and at party time on the weekends and of course the summer. I remember Jimmy telling me to meet him at his house once and that I should just go on into the house when I got there. We did not lock the doors on our homes at the time. I am sure this is unbelievable to the younger folks today just as not having the internet or a mobile phone on you at all times. 

Jimmy purchased a small sports car in high school and we made many a trip to Lake Keystone for our occasional beer drinking episodes. I always thought Jimmy could drink his weight in beer and still be able to drive us home safely. We had a cooler that we hid in the bushes along a dirt road in northwest Tulsa that was marked by a yellow cloth tied on a fence row so we could find it. Jimmy was a fun loving person and always made others around him feel important. On these trips we also had several long, serious talks about the future. I was sure Jimmy would be successful someday, maybe as a salesman as people liked and trusted him. 

As Jimmy and I moved on to Central High School which was still located downtown at this time we drifted apart somewhat but always remained friends and did run around from time to time. Neither of us were great students but seemed to get by as needed. Soon after entering our junior year we received the news on November 22, 1963 that President John Kennedy had been assassinated. School was let out and everyone went home to watch TV to see what was going on in our country. I don’t believe it is something that can be explained if you did not actually live through it yourself. That Sunday we watched as Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. I think we were all too numb to even think at this point. During the next couple of years the new president, Lyndon Johnson pushed though the laws that would be at the heart of the civil rights court battles for years to come. 

As the Vietnam War was ever increasing and the demand for more personnel became apparent plus the fact the country still had a draft, Jimmy and I both knew we would be off to war soon. I decided that I would rather go into the Navy than the Army and signed up that summer. Jimmy wound up going into the Army. Our last meeting was to tell each other to be safe and we promised we would make another beer drinking run upon our return as “war heroes”.

It was soon after that when I started a game I called, “what would Jimmy do” or “what is Jimmy doing or thinking”. I volunteered for Submarine duty and while spending weeks and months under the ocean I would play this game.

I would ask myself, what would Jimmy think of Martin Luther King Junior being killed on April 4, 1968? What would Jimmy think a couple of months later when Robert Kennedy would be killed on June 6, 1968? Is this what our world had come to, where if you did not like what someone says or who they are you just kill them?

What would he think on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon? Wow, for someone whose grandfather’s family moved from Kansas to Turley Oklahoma in a covered wagon not that many years ago, this was awesome!  

I would ask,

Would Jimmy marry some wonderful woman?

How many kids would they have?

Would he be an engineer, lawyer, doctor, teacher, etc., etc.?

Would he be a republican or democrat?

What church, if any, would he attend?

Would he stay in Tulsa or move away to some exotic land?

The possibilities are limited when you are young. They tell you that you can be anything you want to be. You can be President of the United States, CEO of a large company, a taxi driver, a beer salesman (this might be too tempting for Jimmy!), you could start your own business. You can move anywhere you want. You can join any religion you wish. Growing up in the United States of America was just the best thing ever. How exciting to just think about your future. It seemed there were almost too many options to consider.

News Story, March 6, 1968

James Nelson Hinckle, SP5, US Army, Killed in Quang Ngai, South Vietnam at age 20.

Once I received this news, the game was over and the reality set in that Jimmy will not be able to be any of the things we talked about over our cheap, warm beer at the lake. He would not marry anyone; he would not have any children. No, Jimmy would become another member of the long, long list of people who as they say, gave it all for our freedom. I will just say that for a country that always says we are a peace loving country; we sure do fight in a lot of wars.

My Great-Great Grandfather fought in the Civil War, my Grandfather fought in World War I, my father was in World War II, my uncle fought in the Korean War, I served during the Vietnam War as did Jimmy.  People who could have been Jimmy’s children or nieces and nephews, are now serving in Iraq (I call this the Liars war) and Afghanistan. Just when will this ever stop? It seems to me there is a certain commandment that says “Thou Shall Not KILL”. This reminds me, there are 10 commandments, not 9 or 8 or 7!

I think about Jimmy from time to time and think what a waste. He will never be able to live his life due to man’s inhumanity to man.

While I am on my soap box here I would also like to say to the next generation that I am sorry. Sorry for the way we have polluted the water and air. Sorry that we have plowed so many dangerous chemicals into your ground. Sorry that we have over fished the oceans to a point that your children may never eat a “wild” fish dinner. We have poured so much smoke into the air that the sun does not seem as bright as it was during my days at Irving. The water is so dirty and smells so bad that my days at Roosevelt next to the dump don’t seem so bad now. And the future is not as bright for what was the middle class as it once seemed when I attended Central High School. And since some people don’t feel they should pay their fair share of the taxes or for that matter, any taxes at all, we have let the highways, bridges, utilities, etc. deteriorate to a desperate condition. I am still optimistic that the “good” republicans and democrats, if there are any remaining, will come together and get us out of the current war(s) and work to brings jobs back to America and have a fair tax system. I believe once we have good people in office we will remember that we are to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters, not help the wealthy get richer.

I hope and pray that you will be better custodians of the Earth than the generations before you. That you will be the generation(s) that stops fighting what seems like constant war with the youth of our country ending up like Jimmy. We have left you with a tremendous burden but I know I can count on you to do better.

What would Jimmy think about the situation the world is in today?

Patrick Murphy

Tulsa Central High School

Class of 1965      

Retired and living in Santa Fe, NM


I also remember others “who gave it all” in Vietnam. All names are from the Vietnam Memorial Wall and all list their home as Tulsa Oklahoma.

Let them never be forgotten!

Kenneth Abmeyer, LCPL, Marine Corps

Michael Antle, SGT, Army

Billy Armstrong, SGT, Marine Corps

Gregory Arthur, CPL, Marine Corps

Harold Asher, CE3, Navy

John Avera, MAJ, Army

Larry Barker, SGT, Army

Terry Baxter, 1LT, Army

Jerry Beckham, SP4, Army

John Benien, CAPT., Army

Anthony Bennett, LCPL, Marine Corps.

James Bettis, PFC, Marine Corps.

Edmond Blackburn Jr., SP4, Army

Richard Blevins, SN, Navy

William Broad, HM3, Navy

Donald Burgess, PFC, Army

John Burleson, SP4, Army

Thomas Bush, SP4, Army

Earest Carter, SSGT, Army

Jackie Chambers, PFC, Army

Loranzey Chambers, PFC, Marine Corps.

David Chapman, PFC, Marine Corps.

Gilmore Christy, SP4, Army

Robert Cowan III, SGT, Army

Stanley Cox, Capt, Air Force

James Dacy, LCPL, Marine Corps.

Gary Dasher, SP4, Army

Thomas Davie Jr., Capt., Air Force

John Davis, CPL, Army

Clinton Day, PFC, Marine Corps.

James Doke, SGT, Army

Roger Duncan, SP4, Army

Dwight Durham, SGT, Army

William Edmonds, PFC, Marine Corps.

Charles Edwards, SP4, Army

John Egger Jr., MAJ., Air Force

James Fields, SFC, Army

Richard Ford, 1LT, Army

Jordan Forrester, SP4, Army

Marion Gardner, PFC, Army

Jerry Gleghorn, SP4, Army

Roy Hall, CPL, Army

Floyd Hamilton, LCPL, Marine Corps.

Larry Hamilton, SGT, Army

John Havlick, PFC, Army

John Hawkins Jr., CPL, Army

Timothy Henderson, SGT, Marine Corps.

Edward Hudgens, MAJ., Air Force

Charles Hutton, SGT, Army

Michael Hyatt, SGT, Army

Wayne Irsch, CAPT., Air Force

Eugene Jenkins, SP4, Army

Lee Johnson, LCPL, Marine Corps.

Michael Johnson, LCPL, Marine Corps.

Paul Johnson, CAPT., Army

Sammy Jones, PFC, Army

Walter Junger Jr., HM3, Navy

Gregory Koupe, HM2, Navy

Joseph Lauinger, 1LT, Army

Prentice LeClair, SP4, Army

Jack Leopard, SP4, Army

Maxie Linam, SP4, Army

Larry McBurnett, PFC, Army

Albert McDonald Jr., PFC, Army

Michael Mendenhall, PFC, Army

Willy Michalik, PVT, Army

Robert Moyer, PFC, Army

C. J. Nabors, MAJ., Air Force

Walter Nayar, SK2, Navy

Robert Niman, PFC, Army

Samuel Padgett, SFC, Army

Robert Patterson, SGT, Army

Samuel Powell, 1LT, Marine Corps.

Florentino Rangel, SP4, Army

Wayne Richards, PFC, Army

George Robinson, SGT, Marine Corps.

Walter Romero, 1LT, Army

Klaus Ruhland, SFC, Army

Tommy Sandefur, CWO, Army

William Savage, WO, Navy

Jackie Sawney, SP4, Army

David Schouweiler, PFC, Marine Corps.

Donald Scott, SSGT, Army

Martin Scott, COL., Air Force

William Seigle, CPL, Army

Roland Shaw, SP4, Army

Roy Sikkink, LTJG, Navy

Rickey Smith, PVT, Marine Corps.

Carl Sneed, SGT, Army,

James Snook, SP4

Stephen Sparks Sr., 1LT, Army

George Stivers, 2LT, Army

John Stockdale, SP5, Army

James Teffs, CPL, Marine Corps.

Joe Thomas, SP4, Army

Nathaniel Thompson,  PFC, Army

Rudy Thompson, SSGT, Army

Terry Thornton, SSGT, Army

Sam Trizza Jr., 1LT, Army

Robert Tuell III, CPL, Marine Corps

Duane Wagner, SGT, Army

Fred Whiles Jr., PFC, Army

Isaiah Wilson, PFC, Marine Corps.

William Wilson, CPL, Army

Steven Winters, CPL, Army

Craig Yancey, PVT, Marine Corps.

Daniel, York, CWO, Army

Ronald Young, SP4, Army

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